Miss Lebanon is coming under fire after appearing in a “selfie” photo with Miss Israel, with some Lebanese calling for their country's contestant at the Miss Universe pageant to be stripped of her title for “consorting with the enemy”, reports the Telegraph.
Miss Israel, Doron Matalon, posted a photo of herself and Miss Lebanon, Saly Greige, smiling together at pageant preparations in Miami, where the winner will be picked on January 25.
Some Lebanese have demanded on social media that Greige lose her title for contact with a citizen of the enemy state. Israel and Lebanon are technically at war, although the border between the two countries has been largely quiet since the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006.
Greige defended herself on the photo-sharing service, Instagram, on Saturday, claiming Matalon had pestered her for a picture together and finally “photobombed” her.
"Since the first day of my arrival to participate to Miss Universe, I was very cautious to avoid being in any photo or communication with Miss Israel, who tried several times to take a photo with me," Greige wrote, according to the Telegraph.
"I was having a photo with Miss Japan, Miss Slovenia, suddenly Miss Israel jumped in and took a selfie, and uploaded it on her social media," she claimed.
Matalon weighed in on the controversy on Sunday, writing on her social media accounts, "It doesn't surprise me, but it still makes me sad.”
"Too bad you can not put the hostility out of the game, only for three weeks of an experience of a lifetime that we can meet girls from around the world and also from the neighboring country," she added.
Coincidentally, before becoming Miss Israel, Matalon was embroiled in controversy in 2011. A soldier at the time, she boarded a segregated bus in Jerusalem and was asked by a hareidi man to move to the back of the bus. She refused and said the man allegedly called her a “harlot”.